Sci-Fi: Science Certainly Is Fun Initiative

Sci-Fi is an effort that helps children to develop and/or improve their understanding of science by working with their parents on fun projects.

History and purpose:

Organization’s history, purpose and major accomplishments:

  • Science Certainly Is Fun Initiative (Sci-Fi) is a “D.B.A.” of Faith Partnership Inc., which was established in the fall of 2001 to connect poor and disenfranchised individuals and community and faith based institutions to a range of new resources and skills.
  • Sci-Fi is a social change initiative dedicated to tearing down the societal barriers that impair student performance in science.
  • Sci-Fi was piloted in September 2004. The mission of Sci-Fi is to increase the proficiency in, exposure to, confidence about, and enjoyment of science in youth of color, urban and low-income youth and their parents and other involved adults.Organization’s current work and activities:
  • Sci-Fi challenges the negative stereotypes, inadequate opportunities and cultural norms that intimidate young people and adults and discourage them from participating and performing well in science.
  • Sci-Fi brings together youth of color, urban and low- income youth with adults and university students to design and engage in creative and educational science projects.


Composition of the organization’s constituency, membership, and staff:

  • Sci-Fi’s constituency consists of youth (girls and boys aged 5-17) living in urban areas, youth of color and low-income youth in Massachusetts and their parents or other involved adults.
  • According to the US Census Bureau, urban locations in Massachusetts include the metro areas of Barnstable, Boston, Leominster, Fitchburg, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester.
  • Of the just over 6.4 million people in Massachusetts, approximately 5.4% are black or African American, 0.2% are Native American, 3.8% are Asian, and 6.8% are Hispanic/Latino.
  • 9.3% of Massachusetts residents and 113,000 children aged 5-17 are in families in poverty in Massachusetts
  • The youth in Sci-Fi will benefit by combating the limits placed on their academic achievement as a group. They will be involved with designing and implementing innovative science projects that will boost their sense of self-esteem, intelligence and ability to succeed. They will design mechanisms to shatter myths that undermine their collective capacity to excel in science.
  • Sci-Fi was founded by Eva Clarke, an African-American woman. Eva has a long history of community involvement and engagement in social change initiatives. Eva is a community development consultant and the Assistant Pastor of Life Church Ministries Inc. She is the former executive director of the Mattapan Community Development Corporation. Prior to that she worked for ten years for the Boston Community Loan Fund providing capital to community based organizations. Eva serves on a number of non-profit committees and advisory boards. She has a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Structure and Process:

Organization’s structure and decision making process:

  • Sci-Fi is structured as a non-profit 501c3 organization and is affiliated with Life Church Ministries Inc.
  • Sci-Fi will promote leadership development in its constituents. Constituent participants will decide upon and design tools to challenge stereotypes and champion youth capabilities in science.

Program description:


  • Sci-Fi wants to develop tools that address the social and cultural biases and lack of access that prevent young people and adults from participating and excelling in science.
  • Sci-Fi wants to increase the exposure to, understanding of, confidence about, and enjoyment of science in constituent participants.

    Plan to achieve objectives:

  • Sci-Fi will facilitate the development of tools by its constituents to challenge false perceptions and celebrate the engagement and competency of youth in science.
  • Sci-Fi will engage youth in fun, educational, hands-on science projects that they will help to shape.
  • Sci-Fi will form university partnerships and pair university students, alumni and personnel with youth.

    Timetable to achieve objectives:

July – September
October – December
January – March
April – June
Form university partnerships
Engage youth in fun, educational, hands on science projects
Facilitate the development of tools to address biases, challenge perceptions and celebrate achievements
Document increase in exposure to, understanding of, confidence about, and enjoyment of science in constituent participants


Evaluation: How organization will assess the effectiveness of its activities.

  • Sci-Fi will document the tools developed to address social biases and will conduct a survey to determine changes in perception.
  • Sci-Fi will test youth and adults before and after participation to gauge the change in their exposure to, understanding of, confidence about and enjoyment of science.
  • Sci-Fi will partner with community institutions to track performance on standardized tests such as the MCAS.

Movement Building:

The systemic or social change organization is trying to achieve:

  • Sci-Fi’s desired social change is to negate the stereotype of the innate intellectual inferiority of members of its constituent group. According to Stanford psychology professor Claude Steele, this stereotype can diminish performance on standardized tests, a devastating phenomenon he calls “stereotype vulnerability.”
  • Sci-Fi will also challenge limits that the constituent group imposes upon itself, messages such as “intelligence is a fixed quantity”; “if I have to work hard at something that must mean I’m not smart”; “doing well academically is ‘acting white’”; and “boys don’t like smart girls”.
  • Ultimately, Sci-Fi wants to improve the performance of its youth constituents on standardized tests in science. According to the Department of Education-Massachusetts Report Card in Science for 2000, black and Hispanic students, students qualifying for free lunch and students in urban areas of Massachusetts fared far worse than white students, students that don’t qualify for free lunch and students in small towns on standardized tests given to 4th grade and 8th grade students as illustrated in the following table:
Grade 4
Average Score
Percentage Proficient
Small Towns
Not Eligible for Free Lunch
White Students
Eligible for Free Lunch
Black Students
Hispanic Students

Outreach and Collaborations:

  • Sci-Fi will reach out to and partner with a range of organizations including neighborhood associations, community development corporations, schools and churches to invite youth and adults to participate in the initiative.


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